Posts tagged ‘3D printing’

March 7, 2012

Lost a Shoe? Print it Yourself at Home!

The 21st century is the ‘age of stuff’. All of us are piling up ‘things’ at home and every minute we are encouraged to buy even more. If we can’t resist the urge to collect more and more, a new technology can now help at least in reducing our ecological footprint: 3D printing.

3D printing is essentially layers of specific materials – mainly plastic -, printed on top of each other with a special device, enabling the creation of virtually any kind of object. For years it has been used for developing prototypes, for example by architects, but now it’s becoming more mainstream. One of the world’s largest consumer printer manufacturers, HP has already launched 3D printers, and MIT’s researchers have been conducting trials by printing food and working clocks with every little detail included.

A key market player today is MakerBot Industries, offering 3D printers for personal use, including the latest Replicator, and the Thing-O-Magic models. These can print shoes, jewellery, toys, everyday items for the kitchen or the bathroom or anything you can think of. It’s also very handy if small parts or components break or go missing, which would be very expensive or even impossible to replace.

Schematics and blueprints are already freely available for everyone to download, thanks to a whole community that has been developed around MakerBot, sharing the designs of toys or art pieces. [6]

3D printing also offers several environmental benefits. It could reduce or virtually eliminate local and inter-continental shipping and packaging costs. Also, MakerBot’s community is already working on further developments, for instance how to re-cycle or use leftover plastic in order to reduce waste. It has even been claimed that 3D printing can stop over-production as only items that are actually needed are ‘manufactured’ avoiding stock remaining in warehouses.

3D printing thus could really change our shopping habits and our life in the very near future.

 

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: MakerBot

 

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